Sunday, August 24, 2014

#237 / Insha'Allah

Wikipedia tells us that the word "Insha'Allah" (or "Inshallah") is used when speaking about plans and events expected to occur in the future. "The phrase also acknowledges submission to God, with the speaker putting him or herself into God's hands." 

I heard the word Insha'Allah frequently when I traveled in Egypt, and I have come to think of it as a "Two Worlds" word.

Ultimately, what we do in the human world that we create (the world in which we most immediately live) is dependent on the World of Nature, a world we did not create, and a World that encompasses all our human created realities. Our will, in our world, is not enough. Necessary but not sufficient.

I know that many are allergic to any construction that contains the word "God." However, this word aside, our plans and endeavors are ultimately dependent on conditions beyond our direct control. I find it uplifting to acknowledge this frequently.

In fact, I have taken to using "Inshallah" as my "pacing word," as I struggle with the rowing machine at the gym.

I like a reminder of where I really am.

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1 comment:

  1. There is considerable difference between acknowledging that our plans are subject to factors beyond our control, and proclaiming piety to Allah (a mythical supernatural being). Using the phrase Insha'Allah is a false piety that is disrespectful to the people who actually hold this belief, in their own language and within their own culture.

    As an anthropologist, I have always cautioned against adopting words and practices from indigenous cultures into our own. When we transfer a word from one language to another, we cannot also transfer the full cultural context of that word.

    The phrase "Insha'Allah" is a good case in point. It does not just mean "God willing." It proclaims a complete and ultimate submission to the will of Allah, as written in the Qu'ran. Saying the phrase in the absence of such a belief and without an understanding of the source of the cultural context is culturally inconsistent and ultimately dishonest.

    If we are to incorporate such concepts into our own culture, I find it best to do so in our own language and our own cultural context.


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